NEWTOWN >> They are calling themselves “NextGen Rotary,” the area’s newest organization for young business professionals in the Newtown area between the ages of 21 and 35.
Sponsored by the Newtown Rotary Club, the group will operate separately from the club with its own officers and events, but share a common mission - service above self.
The idea is to cultivate the next generation of Rotarians with a schedule of happy hour and service events more suited to the lifestyle of the young professional.
The group held its inaugural gathering on March 10 inside the patio at the Green Parrot Restaurant and Pub where local young business professionals networked with leaders of the Newtown Rotary Club over drinks and appetizers.
Among them were three of the driving forces behind the new organization, Nathan Breece, a sales manager with American Insurance Agency; Julianne Gainsburg of Keller Williams Newtown; and Matt Auterson, Business Development Manager with Apex Home Loans.
“Our primary focus will be giving back to the community and hopefully to cultivate the next generation of Rotarians who will carry on the legacy of what Rotary is, how it started and what it’s about,” said Breece.
The group is modeling NextGen Rotary after a successful Young Professionals Club started by and sponsored by the Doylestown Rotary Club.
“One of the benefits of NextGen is a lower commitment level,” said Breece. “One of the hard parts about Rotary is that they meet every week at lunchtime, which for most young professionals is not a doable thing.”
At a minimum, NextGen will be meeting once a quarter in a happy hour setting and planning one to two service projects a year - “something that fits easier into a young professional’s life,” said Breece.
“It’s going to be sustainable from a commitment, time and cost standpoint,” adds Auterson.
Breece got involved in Rotary after learning about the club from member Paul Salvatore who he met at Ned’s Cigar store. “Next thing you know I was sold on the message. They meet at the Temperance House every week and my office is across the street. So I started attending.”
Breece expanded his involvement to NextGen after being approached by Rotarian Rick Rogers who heard about the Doylestown group and wanted to bring the idea to the Newtown club.
“We have sponsored an Interact Club at Council Rock High School for 20 years. We wanted to teach community service to the next generation,” said Rogers. “What we’re seeing now is a lot of service clubs having a hard time attracting new people. Like Rotary, we meet weekly and it doesn’t fit into the lifestyle. So we wanted to promote service above self to the younger professionals in our community.
“With NextGen we’re giving them the avenue to practice service above self and giving back to the community,” said Rogers. “This can also help their brand and ultimately business can come their way. It’s a different strategy, but it’s about giving service to the community.”
Rogers also recruited Auterson, whose father was a Rotarian for many years and who has a deep faith background in service to others.
“Tonight is amazing,” said Auterson. “It’s great to connect with a bunch of people who are like-minded, wanting to get back into the swing of things, put some of the fear from the pandemic behind us and step into a new season.
“My hope is that we can grow to a sustainable size of people who are taking service to others seriously and people who want to grow professionally,” Auterson added.
The three young professionals are encouraging other young professionals in the area to seriously consider NextGen.
“If you want to give back to the community, if you want to connect with like-minded people, check out one of our events. We’d love to have you here and experience what this is really about,” said Auterson.
“There are a lot of organizations about taking and networking. As far as I know, this is the only young professionals’ group that is about giving back,” said Breece. “If you want to be part of something bigger than yourself and feel like you’re giving value to your community and not just to yourself, this is the place to be.”
Also attending the NextGen event were leaders of the Newtown Rotary Club, including Jerry Agasar, the local club’s president.
“We’re the old guys,” Agasar told the gathering “I joined when I was 27. I’m 64 now. We love Rotary because we are giving back to the community. We do a huge bike collection. We do food drives. We feed the homeless on Christmas Day. We do a lot for the community and it’s a great thing.
“We‘re excited that young people want to come out and have a heart for service,” added Agasar. “We also understand that the world has changed and we need to change with it. So let’s do it your way with NextGen.”
Added longtime Rotarian Paul Salvatore, “We’re not in it to make money off or it. We’re in it to give back. And I can see that potential here. We’re giving you the opportunity tonight to move forward, hand-in-hand working together,” he told the young professionals.
For its inaugural service project, NextGen is collecting supplies for the Family Service Association and the Bucks County Homeless Shelter in Levittown, which FSA operates.
The collection, being held in conjunction with the Council Rock Interact Club, is soliciting blankets, towels, wash cloths and socks through March 26. Look for collection bins at The First National Bank of Newtown (State Street office), the Temperance House and at the American Insurance Agency at 16 South State Street.